Thursday, October 14, 2010

Weapons and Empty Hands

It is often taught that a weapon can be used as an extension of empty hand technique. I think this is very true, and it often helps to think of it as such. However, I also like to think of training with a weapon as a means to give further insight into empty hand technique.
I have noticed, for example, the more I train with a yawara (small stick), the more I transfer these same techniques to my weaponless defenses (for nerve point attacks I often use a knuckle in place of the stick). It works as well with longer weapons such as a Bo staff where leg kicks can be substituted for many of the sweeps/attacks.

The bottom line is that we are always training to hit the same joints and vulnerable areas of the body regardless of what we have or do not have in our hand.

This is not to say a weapon will not be more devastating if it connects (a bullet's speed beats a straight punch any day--and a knife is sharper than a ridge hand strike), but in the end, we can use our hands and feet to emulate such attacks.

And vice vera, of course.


  1. Training in Aikido (don't you as well?) there is a huge connection between weapons and empty hand techniques ... enough to piss off the traditionals who may look upon the changes that have occured in weapon techniques. I feel as though I have benefitted GREATLY by practicing weapons. A lot of relaxation in the limbs by not getting too carried away by holding a weapon. Also, smooth and subtle body movement. Plus weapons are just cool. I wouldn't want my training to be in only weapons though.

  2. i get sick of weapons if there's too much time spent on them--i need the back-and-forth in order to make sense of it all... as for aikido, i actually study small-circle japanses jiu-jitsu, but our style incorporates many aikido techniques. the two blend well.

  3. Great point. Sometimes I focus so much on commonality of technique that I might miss some lessons the weapons themselves might teach.

  4. Even though this is a bit late, I have to say that I have found a lot of benefit from Iaido training with my karate, even though the two are largely unrelated. The maai and visualization are just so key, it really opened my eyes to tai sabaki.